A 7-year-old girl was shot in the arm at her before-school day-care center Tuesday morning by an 8-year-old boy who had brought his father's handgun from home, police said.
The unidentified girl was in stable condition with what police described as a serious but not life-threatening wound. The boy, whom police also would not identify, remained in custody on unspecified charges pending a review by the Department of Juvenile Services.
The boy's father, 56-year-old John Linwood Hall of Germantown, was charged with leaving a firearm in a location accessible by an unsupervised minor, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possession of a firearm by a felon.
News of the shooting, which occurred just before 7 a.m. at the For Kids We Care day-care center, shocked this Washington suburb.
"I think parents realize if this could happen here, it could happen anywhere," said Loretta Favret, principal of the nearby S. Christa McAuliffe Elementary School, where the girl is in second grade. "We all know that there are guns in our community, but the fact that they're getting so close to our children is scary."
Montgomery County police said the boy had carried his father's .38-caliber Taurus revolver and bullets to the day-care center inside his backpack. He was handling the gun inside the pack when it fired, striking the girl in the arm, police said.
The girl was airlifted to Children's Hospital in Washington.
Police said the boy found the gun, which had been in Hall's possession for "a number of years," in an unsecured container inside a closet. Maryland is one of 18 states with laws that hold gun owners liable if they leave guns accessible to children.
Montgomery County State's Atty. Douglas F. Gansler would not detail the charges against the boy.
He said the boy was charged, in part, so he could be "available for the treatment and counseling" offered by the Department of Juvenile Services.
"It was a very difficult position for the police in this charging incident," Gansler said. "In one instance, you have the severity of this case. But on the other hand, the alleged shooter is only an 8-year-old boy."
Gansler said the boy knowingly brought the gun but did not intentionally shoot the girl.